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An Iron Will, by Orison Swett Marden 1


An Iron Will, by Orison Swett Marden

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Title: An Iron Will

Author: Orison Swett Marden

An Iron Will, by Orison Swett Marden 2

Release Date: August 11, 2004 [EBook #13160]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1


WILL ***

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[Illustration: BENJAMIN FRANKLIN, American Philosopher, Statesman,

Diplomatist, and Author. b. Boston, 1706; d. Philadelphia, 1790.]











"The education of the will is the object of our existence," says Emerson.

Nor is this putting it too strongly, if we take into account the human will in
its relations to the divine. This accords with the saying of J. Stuart Mill, that
"a character is a completely fashioned will."

In respect to mere mundane relations, the development and discipline of

one's will-power is of supreme moment in relation to success in life. No
man can ever estimate the power of will. It is a part of the divine nature, all
of a piece with the power of creation. We speak of God's fiat "Fiat lux, Let
light be." Man has his fiat. The achievements of history have been the
choices, the determinations, the creations, of the human will. It was the
will, quiet or pugnacious, gentle or grim, of men like Wilberforce and
Garrison, Goodyear and Cyrus Field, Bismarck and Grant, that made them
indomitable. They simply would do what they planned. Such men can no
more be stopped than the sun can be, or the tide. Most men fail, not through
lack of education or agreeable personal qualities, but from lack of dogged
determination, from lack of dauntless will.

"It is impossible," says Sharman, "to look into the conditions under which
the battle of life is being fought, without perceiving how much really
depends upon the extent to which the will-power is cultivated,
strengthened, and made operative in right directions." Young people need
to go into training for it. We live in an age of athletic meets. Those who are
determined to have athletic will-power must take for it the kind of exercise
they need.

This is well illustrated by a report I have seen of the long race from
Marathon in the recent Olympian games, which was won by the young
Greek peasant, Sotirios Louès.



There had been no great parade about the training of this champion runner.
From his work at the plough he quietly betook himself to the task of
making Greece victorious before the assembled strangers from every land.
He was known to be a good runner, and without fuss or bustle he entered
himself as a competitor. But it was not his speed alone, out-distancing
every rival, that made the young Greek stand out from among his fellows
that day. When he left his cottage home at Amarusi, his father said to him,
"Sotiri, you must only return a victor!" The light of a firm resolve shone in
the young man's eye. The old father was sure that his boy would win, and
so he made his way to the station, there to wait till Sotiri should come in
ahead of all the rest. No one knew the old man and his three daughters as
they elbowed their way through the crowd. When at last the excitement of
the assembled multitude told that the critical moment had arrived, that the
racers were nearing the goal, the old father looked up through eyes that
were a little dim as he realized that truly Sotiri was leading the way. He
was "returning a victor." How the crowd surged about the young peasant
when the race was fairly won! Wild with excitement, they knew not how to
shower upon him sufficient praise. Ladies overwhelmed him with flowers
and rings; some even gave him their watches, and one American lady
bestowed upon him her jewelled smelling-bottle. The princes embraced
him, and the king himself saluted him in military fashion. But the young
Sotirios was seeking for other praise than theirs. Past the ranks of royalty
and fair maidenhood, past the outstretched hands of his own countrymen,
past the applauding crowd of foreigners, his gaze wandered till it fell upon
an old man trembling with eagerness, who resolutely pushed his way
through the excited, satisfied throng. Then the young face lighted, and as
old Louès advanced to the innermost circle with arms outstretched to
embrace his boy, the young victor said, simply: "You see, father, I have


The athlete trains for his race; and the mind must be put into training if one
will win life's race.

"It is," says Professor Mathews, "only by continued, strenuous efforts,

repeated again and again, day after day, week after week, and month after
month, that the ability can be acquired to fasten the mind to one subject,
however abstract or knotty, to the exclusion of everything else. The process
of obtaining this self-mastery--this complete command of one's mental
powers--is a gradual one, its length varying with the mental constitution of
each person; but its acquisition is worth infinitely more than the utmost
labor it ever costs."

"Perhaps the most valuable result of all education," it was said by Professor
Huxley, "is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do when it
ought to be done, whether you like it or not; it is the first lesson which
ought to be learned, and, however early a man's training begins, it is
probably the last lesson which he learns thoroughly."


When Henry Ward Beecher was asked how it was that he could accomplish
so much more than other men, he replied:

"I don't do more, but less, than other people. They do all their work three
times over: once in anticipation, once in actuality, once in rumination. I do
mine in actuality alone, doing it once instead of three times."

This was by the intelligent exercise of Mr. Beecher's will-power in

concentrating his mind upon what he was doing at a given moment, and
then turning to something else. Any one who has observed business men
closely, has noticed this characteristic. One of the secrets of a successful
life is to be able to hold all of our energies upon one point, to focus all of
the scattered rays of the mind upon one place or thing.


The mental reservoir of most people is like a leaky dam which we

sometimes see in the country, where the greater part of the water flows out
without going over the wheel and doing the work of the mill. The habit of

mind-wandering, of worrying about this and that,

"Genius, that power which dazzles mortal eyes, Is oft but Perseverance in

Many a man would have been a success had he connected his fragmentary
efforts. Spasmodic, disconnected attempts, without concentration,
uncontrolled by any fixed idea, will never bring success. It is continuity of
purpose alone that achieves results.


The way to learn to run is to run, the way to learn to swim is to swim. The
way to learn to develop will-power is by the actual exercise of will-power
in the business of life. "The man that exercises his will," says an English
essayist, "makes it a stronger and more effective force in proportion to the
extent to which such exercise is intelligently and perseveringly
maintained." The forth-putting of will-power is a means of strengthening
will-power. The will becomes strong by exercise. To stick to a thing till you
are master, is a test of intellectual discipline and power.


"It is astonishing," says Dr. Theodore Cuyler, "how many men lack this
power of 'holding on' until they reach the goal. They can make a sudden
dash, but they lack grit. They are easily discouraged. They get on as long as
everything goes smoothly, but when there is friction they lose heart. They
depend on stronger personalities for their spirit and strength. They lack
independence or originality. They only dare to do what others do. They do
not step boldly from the crowd and act fearlessly."


What is needed by him who would succeed in the highest degree possible is
careful planning. He is to accumulate reserved power, that he may be equal
to all emergencies. Thomas Starr King said that the great trees of California

gave him his first impression of the power of reserve. "It was the thought of
the reserve energies that had been compacted into them," he said, "that
stirred me. The mountains had given them their iron and rich stimulants,
the hills had given them their soil, the clouds had given their rain and snow,
and a thousand summers and winters had poured forth their treasures about
their vast roots."

No young man can hope to do anything above the commonplace who has
not made his life a reservoir of power on which he can constantly draw,
which will never fail him in any emergency. Be sure that you have stored
away, in your power-house, the energy, the knowledge that will be equal to
the great occasion when it comes. "If I were twenty, and had but ten years
to live," said a great scholar and writer, "I would spend the first nine years
accumulating knowledge and getting ready for the tenth."


"There are no two words in the English language which stand out in bolder
relief, like kings upon a checker-board, to so great an extent as the words 'I
will.' There is strength, depth and solidity, decision, confidence and power,
determination, vigor and individuality, in the round, ringing tone which
characterizes its delivery. It talks to you of triumph over difficulties, of
victory in the face of discouragement, of will to promise and strength to
perform, of lofty and daring enterprise, of unfettered aspirations, and of the
thousand and one solid impulses by which man masters impediments in the
way of progression."

As one has well said: "He who is silent is forgotten; he who does not
advance falls back; he who stops is overwhelmed, distanced, crushed; he
who ceases to become greater, becomes smaller; he who leaves off gives
up; the stationary is the beginning of the end--it precedes death; to live is to
achieve, to will without ceasing."

Be thou a hero; let thy might Tramp on eternal snows its way, And through
the ebon walls of night, Hew down a passage unto day. Park Benjamin.



There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, Can circumvent, or hinder, or

control The firm resolve of a determined soul. Gifts count for nothing; will
alone is great; All things give way before it soon or late. What obstacle can
stay the mighty force Of the sea-seeking river in its course, Or cause the
ascending orb of day to wait? Each well-born soul must win what it
deserves. Let the fool prate of luck. The fortunate Is he whose earnest
purpose never swerves, Whose slightest action or inaction serves The one
great aim. Ella Wheeler Wilcox.

There is always room for a man of force.--Emerson.

The king is the man who can.--Carlyle.

A strong, defiant purpose is many-handed, and lays hold of whatever is

near that can serve it; it has a magnetic power that draws to itself whatever
is kindred.--T.T. Munger.

What is will-power, looked at in a large way, but energy of character?

Energy of will, self-originating force, is the soul of every great character.
Where it is, there is life; where it is not, there is faintness, helplessness, and
despondency. "Let it be your first study to teach the world that you are not
wood and straw; that there is some iron in you." Men who have left their
mark upon the world have been men of great and prompt decision. The
achievements of will-power are almost beyond computation. Scarcely
anything seems impossible to the man who can will strongly enough and
long enough. One talent with a will behind it will accomplish more than ten
without it, as a thimbleful of powder in a rifle, the bore of whose barrel will
give it direction, will do greater execution than a carload burned in the open



"There are three kinds of people in the world," says a recent writer, "the
wills, the won'ts, and the can'ts. The first accomplish everything; the second
oppose everything; the third fail in everything."

The shores of fortune, as Foster says, are covered with the stranded wrecks
of men of brilliant ability, but who have wanted courage, faith, and
decision, and have therefore perished in sight of more resolute but less
capable adventurers, who succeeded in making port.

Were I called upon to express in a word the secret of so many failures

among those who started out with high hopes, I should say they lacked
will-power. They could not half will: and what is a man without a will? He
is like an engine without steam. Genius unexecuted is no more genius than
a bushel of acorns is a forest of oaks.

Will has been called the spinal column of personality. "The will in its
relation to life," says an English writer, "may be compared at once to the
rudder and to the steam engine of a vessel, on the confined and related
action of which it depends entirely for the direction of its course and the
vigor of its movement."

Strength of will is the test of a young man's possibilities. Can he will strong
enough, and hold whatever he undertakes with an iron grip? It is the iron
grip that takes and holds. What chance is there in this crowding, pushing,
selfish, greedy world, where everything is pusher or pushed, for a young
man with no will, no grip on life? The man who would forge to the front in
this competitive age must be a man of prompt and determined decision.


It is in one of Ben Jonson's old plays: "When I once take the humor of a
thing, I am like your tailor's needle--I go through with it."

This is not different from Richelieu, who said: "When I have once taken a
resolution, I go straight to my aim; I overthrow all, I cut down all."

And in business affairs the counsel of Rothschild is to the same effect: "Do
without fail that which you determine to do."

Gladstone's children were taught to accomplish to the end whatever they

might begin, no matter how insignificant the undertaking might be.


It is irresolution that is worse than rashness. "He that shoots," says Feltham,
"may sometimes hit the mark; but he that shoots not at all can never hit it.
Irresolution is like an ague; it shakes not this nor that limb, but all the body
is at once in a fit."

The man who is forever twisting and turning, backing and filling, hesitating
and dawdling, shuffling and parleying, weighing and balancing, splitting
hairs over non-essentials, listening to every new motive which presents
itself, will never accomplish anything. But the positive man, the decided
man, is a power in the world, and stands for something; you can measure
him, and estimate the work that his energy will accomplish.

Opportunity is coy, is swift, is gone, before the slow, the unobservant, the
indolent, or the careless can seize her. "Vigilance in watching opportunity,"
said Phelps, "tact and daring in seizing upon opportunity; force and
persistence in crowding opportunity to its utmost of possible
achievement--these are the martial virtues which must command success."
"The best men," remarked Chapin, "are not those who have waited for
chances, but who have taken them; besieged the chance; conquered the
chance; and made chance the servitor."

Is it not possible to classify successes and failures by their various degrees

of will-power? A man who can resolve vigorously upon a course of action,
and turns neither to the right nor to the left, though a paradise tempt him,
who keeps his eyes upon the goal, whatever distracts him, is sure of

"Not every vessel that sails from Tarshish will bring back the gold of
Ophir. But shall it therefore rot in the harbor? No! Give its sails to the


"Conscious power," says Mellès, "exists within the mind of every one.
Sometimes its existence is unrealized, but it is there. It is there to be
developed and brought forth, like the culture of that obstinate but beautiful
flower, the orchid. To allow it to remain dormant is to place one's self in
obscurity, to trample on one's ambition, to smother one's faculties. To
develop it is to individualize all that is best within you, and give it to the
world. It is by an absolute knowledge of yourself, the proper estimate of
your own value."

"There is hardly a reader," says an experienced educator, "who will not be

able to recall the early life of at least one young man whose childhood was
spent in poverty, and who, in boyhood, expressed a firm desire to secure a
higher education. If, a little later, that desire became a declared resolve,
soon the avenues opened to that end. That desire and resolve created an
atmosphere which attracted the forces necessary to the attainment of the
purpose. Many of these young men will tell us that, as long as they were
hoping and striving and longing, mountains of difficulty rose before them;
but that when they fashioned their hopes into fixed purposes aid came
unsought to help them on the way."


The man without self-reliance and an iron will is the plaything of chance,
the puppet of his environment, the slave of circumstances. Are not doubts
the greatest of enemies? If you would succeed up to the limit of your
possibilities, must you not constantly hold to the belief that you are
success-organized, and that you will be successful, no matter what
opposes? You are never to allow a shadow of doubt to enter your mind that
the Creator intended you to win in life's battle. Regard every suggestion
that your life may be a failure, that you are not made like those who

succeed, and that success is not for you, as a traitor, and expel it from your
mind as you would a thief from your house.

There is something sublime in the youth who possesses the spirit of

boldness and fearlessness, who has proper confidence in his ability to do
and dare.

The world takes us at our own valuation. It believes in the man who
believes in himself, but it has little use for the timid man, the one who is
never certain of himself; who cannot rely on his own judgment, who craves
advice from others, and is afraid to go ahead on his own account.

It is the man with a positive nature, the man who believes that he is equal to
the emergency, who believes he can do the thing he attempts, who wins the
confidence of his fellow-man. He is beloved because he is brave and

Those who have accomplished great things in the world have been, as a
rule, bold, aggressive, and self-confident. They dared to step out from the
crowd, and act in an original way. They were not afraid to be generals.

There is little room in this crowding, competing age for the timid,
vacillating youth. He who would succeed to-day must not only be brave,
but must also dare to take chances. He who waits for certainty never wins.

"The law of the soul is eternal endeavor, That bears the man onward and
upward forever."

"A man can be too confiding in others, but never too confident in himself."

Never admit defeat or poverty. Stoutly assert your divine right to hold your
head up and look the world in the face; step bravely to the front whatever
opposes, and the world will make way for you. No one will insist upon
your rights while you yourself doubt that you have any. Believe you were
made for the place you fill. Put forth your whole energies. Be awake,
electrify yourself; go forth to the task. A young man once said to his

employer, "Don't give me an easy job. I want to handle heavy boxes,

shoulder great loads. I would like to lift a big mountain and throw it into
the sea,"--and he stretched out two brawny arms, while his honest eyes
danced and his whole being glowed with conscious strength.

[Illustration: CHARLES ROBERT DARWIN, English Naturalist. b.

Shrewsbury, 1809; d. Down, 1882.]

The world in its heart admires the stern, determined doer. "The world turns
aside to let any man pass who knows whither he is going." "It is wonderful
how even the apparent casualties of life seem to bow to a spirit that will not
bow to them, and yield to assist a design, after having in vain attempted to
frustrate it."

"The man who succeeds," says Prentice Mulford, "must always in mind or
imagination live, move, think, and act as if he gained that success, or he
never will gain it."

"We go forth," said Emerson, "austere, dedicated, believing in the iron links
of Destiny, and will not turn on our heels to save our lives. A book, a bust,
or only the sound of a name shoots a spark through the nerves, and we
suddenly believe in will. We cannot hear of personal vigor of any kind,
great power of performance, without fresh resolution."



Oh, what miracles have been wrought by the self-confidence, the

self-determination of an iron will! What impossible deeds have been
performed by it! It was this that took Napoleon over the Alps in midwinter;
it took Farragut and Dewey past the cannons, torpedoes, and mines of the
enemy; it led Nelson and Grant to victory; it has been the great tonic in the
world of discovery, invention, and art; it has helped to win the thousand
triumphs in war and science which were deemed impossible.

The secret of Jeanne d'Arc's success was not alone in rare decision of
character, but in the seeing of visions which inspired her to
self-confidence--confidence in her divine mission.

It was an iron will that gave Nelson command of the British fleet, a title,
and a statue at Trafalgar Square It was the keynote of his character when he
said, "When I don't know whether to fight or not, I always fight."

It was an iron will that was brought into play when Horatius with two
companions held ninety thousand Tuscans at bay until the bridge across the
Tiber had been destroyed--when Leonidas at Thermopylæ checked the
mighty march of Xerxes--when Themistocles off the coast of Greece
shattered the Persian's Armada--when Cæsar finding his army hard pressed
seized spear and buckler and snatched victory from defeat--when
Winkelried gathered to his breast a sheaf of Austrian spears and opened a
path for his comrades--when Wellington fought in many climes without
ever being conquered--when Ney on a hundred fields changed apparent
disaster into brilliant triumph--when Sheridan arrived from Winchester as
the Union retreat was becoming a route and turned the tide--when Sherman
signaled his men to hold the fort knowing that their leader was coming.

History furnishes thousands of examples of men who have seized occasions

to accomplish results deemed impossible by those less resolute. Prompt
decision and whole-souled action sweep the world before them. Who was

the organizer of the modern German empire? Was he not the man of iron?


"What would you do if you were besieged in a place entirely destitute of

provisions?" asked the examiner, when Napoleon was a cadet.

"If there were anything to eat in the enemy's camp, I should not be

When Paris was in the hands of a mob, and the authorities were
panic-stricken, in came a man who said, "I know a young officer who can
quell this mob."

"Send for him."

Napoleon was sent for; he came, he subjugated the mob, he subjugated the
authorities, he ruled France, then conquered Europe.

May 10, 1796, Napoleon carried the bridge at Lodi, in the face of the
Austrian batteries, trained upon the French end of the structure. Behind
them were six thousand troops. Napoleon massed four thousand grenadiers
at the head of the bridge, with a battalion of three hundred carbineers in
front. At the tap of the drum the foremost assailants wheeled from the cover
of the street wall under a terrible hail of grape and canister, and attempted
to pass the gateway to the bridge. The front ranks went down like stalks of
grain before a reaper; the column staggered and reeled backward, and the
valiant grenadiers were appalled by the task before them. Without a word
or a look of reproach, Napoleon placed himself at their head, and his aids
and generals rushed to his side. Forward again over heaps of dead that
choked the passage, and a quick run counted by seconds only carried the
column across two hundred yards of clear space, scarcely a shot from the
Austrians taking effect beyond the point where the platoons wheeled for the
first leap. The guns of the enemy were not aimed at the advance. The
advance was too quick for the Austrian gunners. So sudden and so
miraculous was it all, that the Austrian artillerists abandoned their guns

instantly, and their supports fled in a panic instead of rushing to the front
and meeting the French onslaught. This Napoleon had counted on in
making the bold attack.

What was Napoleon but the thunderbolt of war? He once journeyed from
Spain to Paris at seventeen miles an hour in the saddle.

"Is it possible to cross the path?" asked Napoleon of the engineers who had
been sent to explore the dreaded pass of St. Bernard.

"Perhaps," was the hesitating reply, "it is within the limits of possibility."

"Forward, then."

Yet Ulysses S. Grant, a young man unknown to fame, with neither money
nor influence, with no patrons or friends, in six years fought more battles,
gained more victories, captured more prisoners, took more spoils,
commanded more men, than Napoleon did in twenty years. "The great thing
about him," said Lincoln, "is cool persistence."


When the Spanish fire on San Juan Hill became almost unbearable, some of
the Rough Riders began to swear. Colonel Wood, with the wisdom of a
good leader, called out, amid the whistle of the Mauser bullets: "Don't

In a skirmish at Salamanca, while the enemy's guns were pouring shot into
his regiment, Sir William Napier's men became disobedient. He at once
ordered a halt, and flogged four of the ringleaders under fire. The men
yielded at once, and then marched three miles under a heavy cannonade as
coolly as if it were a review.

When Pellisier, the Crimean chief of Zouaves, struck an officer with a

whip, the man drew a pistol that missed fire. The chief replied: "Fellow, I
order you a three days' arrest for not having your arms in better order."

The man of iron will is cool in the hour of danger.


This was what Roosevelt said about his pushing on up San Juan Hill ahead
of his regiment: "I had to run like a cyclone to stay in front and keep from
being run over."

The personal heroism of Hobson, or of Cushing, who blew up the

"Albemarle" forty years ago, was but the expression of a magnificent will
power. It was this which was the basis of General Wheeler's unparalleled
military advancement: a second lieutenant at twenty-three, a colonel at
twenty-four, a brigadier-general at twenty-five, a major-general at
twenty-six, a corps commander at twenty-seven, and a lieutenant-general at

General Wheeler had sixteen horses killed under him, and a great number
wounded. His saddle equipments and clothes were frequently struck by the
missiles of the enemy. He was three times wounded, once painfully. He had
thirty-two staff officers, or acting staff officers, killed or wounded. In
almost every case they were immediately by his side. No officer was ever
more exposed to the missiles of death than Joseph Wheeler.

What is this imperial characteristic of manhood, an iron will, but that which
underlies all magnificent achievement, whether by heroes of the "Light
Brigade" or the heroic fire-fighters of our great cities?




There is no doubt that, as a rule, great decision of character is usually

accompanied by great constitutional firmness. Men who have been noted
for great firmness of character have usually been strong and robust. As a
rule it is the strong physical man who carries weight and conviction. Take,
as an example, William the Conqueror, as he is pictured by Green in his

"The very spirit of the sea-robbers from whom he sprang seemed embodied
in his gigantic form, his enormous strength, his savage countenance, his
desperate bravery. No other knight under heaven, his enemies confessed,
was William's peer. No other man could bend William's bow. His mace
crashed through a ring of English warriors to the foot of the standard. He
rose to his greatest heights in moments when other men despaired. No other
man who ever sat upon the throne of England was this man's match."

Or, take Webster. Sydney Smith said: "Webster is a living lie; because no
man on earth can be as great as he looks." Carlyle said of him: "One would
incline at sight to back him against the world." His very physique was
eloquent. Men yielded their wills to his at sight.

The great prizes of life ever fall to the robust, the stalwart, the strong,--not
to a huge muscle or powerful frame necessarily, but to a strong vitality, a
great nervous energy. It is the Lord Broughams, working almost
continuously one hundred and forty-four hours; it is the Napoleons, twenty
hours in the saddle; it is the Franklins, camping out in the open air at
seventy; it is the Gladstones, firmly grasping the helm of the ship of state at
eighty-four, tramping miles every day, and chopping down huge trees at
eighty-five,--who accomplish the great things of life.

To prosper you must improve your brain power; and nothing helps the
brain more than a healthy body. The race of to-day is only to be won by
those who will study to keep their bodies in such good condition that their
minds are able and ready to sustain that high pressure on memory and
mind, which our present fierce competition engenders. It is health rather
than strength that is now wanted. Health is essentially the requirement of
our time to enable us to succeed in life. In all modern occupations--from
the nursery to the school, from the school to the shop or world beyond--the
brain and nerve strain go on, continuous, augmenting, and intensifying.

As a rule physical vigor is the condition of a great career. Stonewall

Jackson, early in life, determined to conquer every weakness he had,
physical, mental, and moral. He held all of his powers with a firm hand. To
his great self-discipline and self-mastery he owed his success. So
determined was he to harden himself to the weather that he could not be
induced to wear an overcoat in winter. "I will not give in to the cold," he
said. For a year, on account of dyspepsia, he lived on buttermilk and stale
bread, and wore a wet shirt next his body because his doctor advised it,
although everybody else ridiculed the idea. This was while he was
professor at the Virginia Military Institute. His doctor advised him to retire
at nine o'clock; and, no matter where he was, or who was present, he
always sought his bed on the minute. He adhered rigidly through life to this
stern system of discipline. Such self-training, such self-conquest, gives one
great power over others. It is equal to genius itself.

"I can do nothing," said Grant, "without nine hours' sleep."

What else is so grand as to stand on life's threshold, fresh, young, hopeful,

with a consciousness of power equal to any emergency,--a master of the
situation? The glory of a young man is his strength.

Our great need of the world to-day is for men and women who are good
animals. To endure the strain of our concentrated civilization, the coming
man and woman must have an excess of animal spirits. They must have a
robustness of health. Mere absence of disease is not health. It is the
overflowing fountain, not the one half full, that gives life and beauty to the

valley below. Only he is healthy who exults in mere animal existence;

whose very life is a luxury; who feels a bounding pulse throughout his
body; who feels life in every limb, as dogs do when scouring over the field,
or as boys do when gliding over fields of ice.


Yet in spite of all this, in defiance of it, we know that an iron will is often
triumphant in the contest with physical infirmity.

"Brave spirits are a balsam to themselves: There is a nobleness of mind that

heals Wounds beyond salves."

"One day," said a noted rope-walker, "I signed an agreement to wheel a

barrow along a rope on a given day. A day or two before I was seized with
lumbago. I called in my medical man, and told him I must be cured by a
certain day; not only because I should lose what I hoped to earn, but also
forfeit a large sum. I got no better, and the doctor forbade my getting up. I
told him, 'What do I want with your advice? If you cannot cure me, of what
good is your advice?' When I got to the place, there was the doctor
protesting I was unfit for the exploit. I went on, though I felt like a frog
with my back. I got ready my pole and my barrow, took hold of the handles
and wheeled it along the rope as well as I ever did. When I got to the end I
wheeled it back again, and when this was done I was a frog again. What
made me that I could wheel the barrow? It was my reserve will."

"What does he know," asks the sage, "who has not suffered?" Did not
Schiller produce his greatest tragedies in the midst of physical suffering
almost amounting to torture? Handel was never greater than when, warned
by palsy of the approach of death, and struggling with distress and
suffering, he sat down to compose the great works which have made his
name immortal in music. Beethoven was almost totally deaf and burdened
with sorrow when he produced his greatest works. Milton writing "Who
best can suffer, best can do," wrote at his best when in feeble health, and
when poor and blind.

"... Yet I argue not Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or
hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward."

The Rev. William H. Milburn, who lost his sight when a child, studied for
the ministry, and was ordained before he attained his majority. He has
written half a dozen books, among them a very careful history of the
Mississippi Valley. He has long been chaplain of the lower house of

Blind Fanny Crosby, of New York, was a teacher of the blind for many
years. She has written nearly three thousand hymns, among which are:
"Pass Me not, O Gentle Saviour," "Rescue the Perishing," "Saviour More
than Life to Me," and "Jesus keep Me near the Cross."

"The truest help we can render one who is afflicted," said Bishop Brooks,
"is not to take his burden from him, but to call out his best energy, that he
may be able to bear."

What a mighty will Darwin had! He was in continual ill health. He was in
constant suffering. His patience was marvellous. No one but his wife knew
what he endured. "For forty years," says his son, "he never knew one day of
health;" yet during those forty years he unremittingly forced himself to do
the work from which the mightiest minds and the strongest constitutions
would have shrunk. He had a wonderful power of sticking to a subject. He
used almost to apologize for his patience, saying that he could not bear to
be beaten, as if it were a sign of weakness.

Bulwer advises us to refuse to be ill, never to tell people we are ill, never to
own it ourselves. Illness is one of those things which a man should resist on
principle. Do not dwell upon your ailments nor study your symptoms.
Never allow yourself to be convinced that you are not complete master of
yourself. Stoutly affirm your own superiority over bodily ills. We should
keep a high ideal of health and harmony constantly before the mind.

Is not the mind the natural protector of the body? We cannot believe that
the Creator has left the whole human race entirely at the mercy of only

about half a dozen specific drugs which always act with certainty. There is
a divine remedy placed within us for many of the ills we suffer. If we only
knew how to use this power of will and mind to protect ourselves, many of
us would be able to carry youth and cheerfulness with us into the teens of
our second century. The mind has undoubted power to preserve and sustain
physical youth and beauty, to keep the body strong and healthy, to renew
life, and to preserve it from decay, many years longer than it does now. The
longest-lived men and women have, as a rule, been those who have attained
great mental and moral development. They have lived in the upper region
of a higher life, beyond the reach of much of the jar, the friction, and the
discords which weaken and shatter most lives.

Every physician knows that courageous people, with indomitable will, are
not half as likely to contract contagious diseases as the timid, the
vacillating, the irresolute. A thoughtful physician once assured a friend that
if an express agent were to visit New Orleans in the yellow-fever season,
having forty thousand dollars in his care, he would be in little danger of the
fever so long as he kept possession of the money. Let him once deliver that
into other hands, and the sooner he left the city the better.

Napoleon used to visit the plague hospitals even when the physicians
dreaded to go, and actually put his hands upon the plague-stricken patients.
He said the man who was not afraid could vanish the plague. A will power
like this is a strong tonic to the body. Such a will has taken many men from
apparent death-beds, and enabled them to perform wonderful deeds of
valor. When told by his physicians that he must die, Douglas Jerrold said:
"And leave a family of helpless children? I won't die." He kept his word,
and lived for years.



What doth the poor man's son inherit? Stout muscles, and a sinewy heart, A
hardy frame, a hardier spirit! King of two hands he does his part In every
useful toil and art: A heritage it seems to me, A king might wish to hold in
fee. Lowell.

Has not God given every man a capital to start with? Are we not born rich?
He is rich who has good health, a sound body, good muscles; he is rich who
has a good head, a good disposition, a good heart; he is rich who has two
good hands, with five chances on each. Equipped? Every man is equipped
as only God could equip him. What a fortune he possesses in the
marvellous mechanism of his body and mind. It is individual effort that has
achieved everything worth achieving.


A big Australian, six feet four, James Tyson, died not long since, with a
property of $25,000,000, who began life as a farm hand. Tyson cared little
for money. He used to say of it:

"I shall just leave it behind me when I go. I shall have done with it then,
and it will not concern me afterwards. But," he would add, with a
characteristic semi-exultant snap of the fingers, "the money is nothing. It
was the little game that was the fun."

Being asked, "What was the little game?" he replied with an energy of
concentration peculiar to him: "Fighting the desert. That has been my work.
I have been fighting the desert all my life, and I have won. I have put water
where was no water, and beef where was no beef. I have put fences where
there were no fences, and roads where there were no roads. Nothing can
undo what I have done, and millions will be happier for it after I am long
dead and forgotten."

Has not self-help accomplished about all the great things of the world?
How many young men falter, faint, and dally with their purpose because
they have no capital to start with, and wait and wait for some good luck to
give them a lift. But success is the child of drudgery and perseverance. It
cannot be coaxed or bribed; pay the price, and it is yours. A constant
struggle, a ceaseless battle to bring success from inhospitable surroundings,
is the price of all great achievements.


Benjamin Franklin had this tenacity of purpose in a wonderful degree.

When he started in the printing business in Philadelphia, he carried his
material through the streets on a wheelbarrow. He hired one room for his
office, work-room, and sleeping-room. He found a formidable rival in the
city and invited him to his room. Pointing to a piece of bread from which
he had just eaten his dinner, he said:

"Unless you can live cheaper than I can, you cannot starve me out."

It was so that he proved the wisdom of Edmund Burke's saying, that "He
that wrestles with us strengthens our nerves, and sharpens our skill: our
antagonist is our helper."

The poor and friendless lad, George Peabody, weary, footsore, and hungry,
called at a tavern in Concord, N.H., and asked to be allowed to saw wood
for lodging and breakfast. Yet he put in work for everything he ever
received, and out-matched the poverty of early days.

Gideon Lee could not even get shoes to wear in winter, when a boy, but he
went to work barefoot in the snow. He made a bargain with himself to work
sixteen hours a day. He fulfilled it to the letter, and when from interruption
he lost time, he robbed himself of sleep to make it up. He became a wealthy
merchant of New York, mayor of the city, and a member of Congress.


The business affairs of a gentleman named Rouss were once in a

complicated condition, owing to his conflicting interests in various states,
and he was thrown into prison. While confined he wrote on the walls of his

"I am forty years of age this day. When I am fifty, I shall be worth half a
million; and by the time I am sixty, I shall be worth a million dollars."

He lived to accumulate more than three million dollars.

"The ruin which overtakes so many merchants," says Whipple, "is due not
so much to their lack of business talent as to their lack of business nerve."

Cyrus W. Field had retired from business with a large fortune when he
became possessed with the idea that by means of a cable laid upon the
bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, telegraphic communication could be
established between Europe and America. He plunged into the undertaking
with all the force of his being. It was an incredibly hard contest: the forests
of Newfoundland, the lobby in Congress, the unskilled handling of brakes
on his Agamemnon cable, a second and a third breaking of the cable at sea,
the cessation of the current in a well-laid cable, the snapping of a superior
cable on the Great Eastern--all these availed not to foil the iron will of
Field, whose final triumph was that of mental energy in the application of


To Horace Greeley, the founder of the "Tribune," I need not allude; his
story is or ought to be in every school-book.

James Brooks, once the editor and proprietor of the "Daily Express," and
later an eminent congressman, began life as a clerk in a store in Maine, and
when twenty-one received for his pay a hogshead of New England rum. He
was so eager to go to college that he started for Waterville with his trunk on
his back, and when he was graduated he was so poor and plucky that he
carried his trunk on his back to the station as he went home.

When James Gordon Bennett was forty years old he collected all his
property, three hundred dollars, and in a cellar with a board upon two
barrels for a desk, himself his own typesetter, office boy, publisher,
newsboy, clerk, editor, proofreader, and printer's devil, he started the "New
York Herald." He did this, after many attempts and defeats in trying to
follow the routine, instead of doing his own way. Never was any man's
early career a better illustration of Wendell Phillips' dictum: "What is
defeat? Nothing but education; nothing but the first steps to something

Thurlow Weed, who was a journalist for fifty-seven years, strong, sensible,
genial, tactful, and of magnificent physique, who did so much to shape
public policy in the Empire State, tells a most romantic story of his

"I cannot ascertain how much schooling I got at Catskill, probably less than
a year, certainly not a year and a half, and this was when I was not more
than five or six years old. I felt a necessity, at an early age, of trying to do
something for my own support.

"My first employment was in sugar-making, an occupation to which I

became much attached. I now look with great pleasure upon the days and
nights passed in the sap-bush. The want of shoes (which, as the snow was
deep, was no small privation) was the only drawback upon my happiness. I
used, however, to tie pieces of an old rag carpet around my feet, and got
along pretty well, chopping wood and gathering up sap. But when the
spring advanced, and bare ground appeared in spots, I threw off the old
carpet encumbrance and did my work barefoot.

"There is much leisure time for boys who are making maple sugar. I
devoted this time to reading, when I could obtain books; but the farmers of
that period had few or no books, save their Bibles. I borrowed books
whenever and wherever I could.

"I heard that a neighbor, three miles off, had borrowed from a still more
distant neighbor a book of great interest. I started off, barefoot, in the snow,

to obtain the treasure. There were spots of bare ground, upon which I would
stop to warm my feet. And there were also, along the road, occasional
lengths of log-fence from which the snow had melted, and upon which it
was a luxury to walk. The book was at home, and the good people
consented, upon my promise that it should be neither torn nor soiled, to
lend it to me. In returning with the prize, I was too happy to think of the
snow or my naked feet.

"Candles were then among the luxuries, not the necessaries, of life. If boys,
instead of going to bed after dark, wanted to read, they supplied themselves
with pine knots, by the light of which, in a horizontal position, they pursued
their studies. In this manner, with my body in the sugar-house, and my head
out of doors, where the fat pine was blazing, I read with intense interest the
book I had borrowed, a 'History of the French Revolution.'"

Weed's next earning was in an iron foundry at Onondaga:

"My business was, after a casting, to temper and prepare the molding 'dogs,'
myself. This was night and day work. We ate salt pork and rye and Indian
bread, three times a day, and slept on straw in bunks. I liked the excitement
of a furnace life."

When he went to the "Albany Argus" to learn the printing business he

worked from five in the morning till nine at night.


The more difficulties one has to encounter, within and without, the more
significant and the higher in inspiration his life will be.--Horace Bushnell.

The story of Weed and of Greeley is not an uncommon one in America.

Some of the most eminent men on the globe have struggled with poverty in
early life and triumphed over it.

The astronomer Kepler, whose name can never die, was kept in constant
anxieties; and he told fortunes by astrology for a livelihood, saying that

astrology, as the daughter of astronomy, ought to keep her mother. All sorts
of service he had to accept; he made almanacs and worked for any one who
would pay him.

Linnæus was so poor when getting his education that he had to mend his
shoes with folded paper, and often had to beg his meals of his friends.

During the ten years in which he made his greatest discoveries, Isaac
Newton could hardly pay two shillings a week to the Royal Society of
which he was a member. Some of his friends wanted to get him excused
from this payment, but he would not allow them to act.

Humphry Davy had but a slender chance to acquire great scientific

knowledge, yet he had true mettle in him, and he made even old pans,
kettles, and bottles contribute to his success, as he experimented and
studied in the attic of the apothecary store where he worked.

George Stephenson was one of eight children whose parents were so poor
that all lived in a single room. George had to watch cows for a neighbor,
but he managed to get time to make engines of clay, with hemlock sticks
for pipes. At seventeen he had charge of an engine, with his father for
fireman. He could neither read nor write, but the engine was his teacher,
and he a faithful student. While the other hands were playing games or
loafing in liquor shops during the holidays, George was taking his machine
to pieces, cleaning it, studying it, and making experiments in engines.
When he had become famous as a great inventor of improvements in
engines, those who had loafed and played called him lucky.

It was by steadfastly keeping at it, by indomitable will power, that these

men won their positions in life.

"We rise by the things that are under our feet; By what we have mastered of
good or gain."


Among the companions of Sir Joshua Reynolds, while he was studying his
art at Rome, was a fellow-pupil of the name of Astley. They made an
excursion, with some others, on a sultry day, and all except Astley took off
their coats. After several taunts he was persuaded to do the same, and
displayed on the back of his waistcoat a foaming waterfall. Distress had
compelled him to patch his clothes with one of his own landscapes.

James Sharpies, the celebrated blacksmith artist of England, was very poor,
but he often rose at three o'clock to copy books he could not buy. He would
walk eighteen miles to Manchester and back after a hard day's work, to buy
a shilling's worth of artist's materials. He would ask for the heaviest work in
the blacksmith shop, because it took a longer time to heat at the forge, and
he could thus have many spare minutes to study the precious book, which
he propped up against the chimney. He was a great miser of spare
moments, and used every one as though he might never see another. He
devoted his leisure hours for five years to that wonderful production, "The
Forge," copies of which are to be seen in many a home. It was by one
unwavering aim, carried out by an iron will, that he wrought out his life

"That boy will beat me one day," said an old painter as he watched a little
fellow named Michael Angelo making drawings of pot and brushes, easel
and stool, and other articles in the studio. The barefoot boy did persevere
until he had overcome every difficulty and become the greatest master of
art the world has known. Although Michael Angelo made himself immortal
in three different occupations,--and his fame might well rest upon his dome
of St. Peter as an architect, upon his "Moses" as a sculptor, or upon his
"Last Judgment" as a painter,--yet we find by his correspondence, now in
the British Museum, that when he was at work on his colossal bronze statue
of Pope Julius II., he was so poor that he could not have his younger
brother come to visit him at Bologna, because he had but one bed in which
he and three of his assistants slept together. Yet

"The star of an unconquered will Arose in his breast, Serene, and resolute
and still, And calm and self-possessed."


The struggles and triumphs of those who are bound to win is a

never-ending tale. Nor will the procession of enthusiastic workers cease so
long as the globe is turning on its axle.

Say what we will of genius, specialized in a hundred callings, yet the fact
remains that no amount of genius has ever availed upon the earth unless
enforced by will power to overcome the obstacles that hedge about every
one who would rise above the circumstances in which he was born, or
become greater than his calling. Was not Virgil the son of a porter, Horace
of a shopkeeper, Demosthenes of a cutler, Milton of a money scrivener,
Shakespeare of a wool stapler, and Cromwell of a brewer?

[Illustration: THURLOW WEED, American Journalist and Politician. b.

Cairo, N.Y., 1797; d. New York, 1882.]

Ben Jonson, when following his trade of a mason, worked on Lincoln's Inn
in London with trowel in hand and a book in his pocket. Joseph Hunter was
a carpenter in youth, Robert Burns a plowman, Keats a druggist, Thomas
Carlyle and Hugh Miller masons. Dante and Descartes were soldiers.
Cardinal Wolsey, Defoe, and Kirke White were butchers' sons. Faraday was
the son of a hostler, and his teacher, Humphry Davy, was an apprentice to
an apothecary. Kepler was a waiter boy in a German hotel, Bunyan a tinker,
Copernicus the son of a Polish baker. They rose by being greater than their
callings, as Arkwright rose above mere barbering, Bunyan above tinkering,
Wilson above shoemaking, Lincoln above rail-splitting, and Grant above
tanning. By being first-class barbers, tinkers, shoemakers, rail-splitters,
tanners, they acquired the power which enabled them to become great
inventors, authors, statesmen, generals. John Kay, the inventor of the
fly-shuttle, James Hargreaves, who introduced the spinning-jenny, and
Samuel Compton, who originated mule-spinning, were all artisans,
uneducated and poor, but were endowed with natural faculties which
enabled them to make a more enduring impression upon the world than
anything that could have been done by the mere power of scholarship or

It cannot be said of any of these great names that their individual courses in
life would have been what they were, had there been lacking a superb will
power resistless as the tide to bear them upward and onward.

Let Fortune empty her whole quiver on me, I have a soul that, like an ample
shield, Can take in all, and verge enough for more; Fate was not mine, nor
am I Fate's: Souls know no conquerors. Dryden.



"Never give up, there are chances and changes, Helping the hopeful, a
hundred to one; And, through the chaos, High Wisdom arranges Ever
success, if you'll only hold on. Never give up; for the wisest is boldest,
Knowing that Providence mingles the cup, And of all maxims, the best, as
the oldest, Is the stern watchword of 'Never give up!'"

Be firm; one constant element of luck Is genuine, solid, old Teutonic pluck.

Success in most things depends on knowing how long it takes to


The power to hold on is characteristic of all men who have accomplished

anything great; they may lack in some other particular, have many
weaknesses or eccentricities, but the quality of persistence is never absent
from a successful man. No matter what opposition he meets or what
discouragement overtakes him, drudgery cannot disgust him, obstacles
cannot discourage him, labor cannot weary him; misfortune, sorrow, and
reverses cannot harm him. It is not so much brilliancy of intellect, or
fertility of resource, as persistency of effort, constancy of purpose, that
makes a great man. Those who succeed in life are the men and women who
keep everlastingly at it, who do not believe themselves geniuses, but who
know that if they ever accomplish anything they must do it by determined
and persistent industry.

Audubon after years of forest life had two hundred of his priceless
drawings destroyed by mice.

"A poignant flame," he relates, "pierced my brain like an arrow of fire, and
for several weeks I was prostrated with fever. At length physical and moral
strength awoke within me. Again I took my gun, my game-bag, my
portfolio, and my pencils, and plunged once more into the depths of the


All are familiar with the misfortune of Carlyle while writing his "History of
the French Revolution." After the first volume was ready for the press, he
loaned the manuscript to a neighbor, who left it lying on the floor, and the
servant girl took it to kindle the fire. It was a bitter disappointment, but
Carlyle was not the man to give up. After many months of poring Over
hundreds of volumes of authorities and scores of manuscripts, he
reproduced that which had burned in a few minutes.


The slightest acquaintance with literary history would bring to light a

multitude of heroes of poverty or misfortune, of men and women perplexed
and disheartened, who have yet aroused themselves to new effort at every
new obstacle.

It is related by Arago that he found under the cover of a text book he was
binding a short note from D'Alembert to a student:

"Go on, sir, go on. The difficulties you meet with will resolve themselves
as you advance. Proceed; and light will dawn, and shine with increasing
clearness on your path."

"That maxim," said Arago, "was my greatest master in mathematics."

Had Balzac been easily discouraged he would have hesitated at the words
of warning given by his father:

"Do you know that in literature a man must be either a king or a beggar?"

"Very well," was the reply, "I will be a king."

His parents left him to his fate in a garret. For ten years he fought terrible
battles with hardship and poverty, but won a great victory at last. He won it
after producing forty novels that did not win.

Zola's early manhood witnessed a bitter struggle against poverty and

deprivation. Until twenty he was a spoiled child; but, on his father's death,
he and his mother began the battle of life in Paris. Of his dark time, Zola
himself says:

"Often I went hungry for so long, that it seemed as if I must die. I scarcely
tasted meat from one month's end to another, and for two days I lived on
three apples. Fire, even on the coldest nights, was an undreamed-of luxury;
and I was the happiest man in Paris when I could get a candle, by the light
of which I might study at night."

Samuel Johnson's bare feet at Oxford showed through the holes in his
shoes, yet he threw out at his window the new pair that some one left at his
door. He lived for a time in London on nine cents a day. For thirteen years
he had a hard struggle with want. John Locke once lived on bread and
water in a Dutch garret, and Heyne slept many a night on a barn floor with
only a book for his pillow. It was to poverty as a thorn urging the breast of
Harriet Martineau that we owe her writings.

There are no more interesting pages in biography than those which record
how Emerson, as a child, was unable to read the second volume of a certain
book, because his widowed mother could not afford the amount (five cents)
necessary to obtain it from the circulating library.

"Poor fellow!" said Emerson, as he looked at his delicately-reared little son,

"how much he loses by not having to go through the hard experiences I had
in my youth."

It was through the necessity laid upon him to earn that Emerson made his
first great success in life as a teacher. "I know," he said, "no such
unquestionable badge and ensign of a sovereign mind as that tenacity of
purpose, which, through all change of companions or parties or fortunes,
changes never, bates no jot of heart or hope, but wearies out opposition and
arrives at its port."



Louisa Alcott earned two hundred thousand dollars by her pen. Yet, when
she was first dreaming of her power, her father handed her a manuscript
one day that had been rejected by Mr. Fields, editor of the "Atlantic," with
the message:

"Tell Louisa to stick to her teaching; she can never succeed as a writer."

"Tell him I will succeed as a writer, and some day I shall write for the

Not long after she wrote for the "Atlantic" a poem that Longfellow
attributed to Emerson. And there came a time when she wrote in her diary:

"Twenty years ago I resolved to make the family independent if I could. At

forty, that is done. Debts all paid, even the outlawed ones, and we have
enough to be comfortable. It has cost me my health, perhaps."


So it was said by Lord Chatham. "Why," asked Mirabeau, "should we call

ourselves men, unless it be to succeed in everything everywhere?"

"It is all very well," said Charles J. Fox, "to tell me that a young man has
distinguished himself by a brilliant first speech. He may go on satisfied
with his first triumph; but show me a young man who has not succeeded at
first, and has then gone on, and I will back that man to do better than those
who succeeded at the first trial." Cobden broke down completely the first
time he appeared on a platform in Manchester, and the chairman apologized
for him; but he did not give up speaking until every poor man in England
had a larger, better, and cheaper loaf. Young Disraeli sprung from a hated
and persecuted race, pushed his way up through the middle classes and
upper classes, until he stood self-poised upon the topmost round of political
and social power. At first he was scoffed at, ridiculed, rebuffed, hissed from
the House of Commons; he simply said, "The time will come when you
will hear me." The time did come, and he swayed the sceptre of England
for a quarter of a century.

How massive was the incalculable reserve power of Lincoln as a youth; or

of President Garfield, wood-chopper, bell-ringer, and sweeper-general in


We hear a great deal of talk about genius, talent, luck, chance, cleverness,
and fine manners playing a large part in one's success. Leaving out luck and
chance, all these elements are important factors. Yet the possession of any
or all of them, unaccompanied by a definite aim, a determined purpose, will
not insure success. Men drift into business. They drift into society. They
drift into politics. They drift into what they fondly and but vainly imagine
is religion. If winds and tides are favorable, all is well; if not, all is wrong.
Stalker says: "Most men merely drift through life, and the work they do is
determined by a hundred different circumstances; they might as well be
doing anything else, or they would prefer to be doing nothing at all." Yet
whatever else may have been lacking in the giants of the race, the men who
have been conspicuously successful have all had one characteristic in
common--doggedness and persistence of purpose.

It does not matter how clever a youth may be, whether he leads his class in
college or outshines all the other boys in his community, he will never
succeed if he lacks this essential of determined persistence. Many men who
might have made brilliant musicians, artists, teachers, lawyers, able
physicians or surgeons, in spite of predictions to the contrary, have fallen
short of success because deficient in this quality.

Persistency of purpose is a power. It creates confidence in others.

Everybody believes in the determined man. When he undertakes anything
his battle is half won, because not only he himself, but every one who
knows him, believes that he will accomplish whatever he sets out to do.
People know that it is useless to oppose a man who uses his
stumbling-blocks as stepping-stones; who is not afraid of defeat; who
never, in spite of calumny or criticism, shrinks from his task; who never
shirks responsibility; who always keeps his compass pointed to the north
star of his purpose, no matter what storms may rage about him.

The persistent man never stops to consider whether he is succeeding or not.

The only question with him is how to push ahead, to get a little farther
along, a little nearer his goal. Whether it lead over mountains, rivers, or
morasses, he must reach it. Every other consideration is sacrificed to this
one dominant purpose.

The success of a dull or average youth and the failure of a brilliant one is a
constant surprise in American history. But if the different cases are closely
analyzed we shall find that the explanation lies in the staying power of the
seemingly dull boy, the ability to stand firm as a rock under all
circumstances, to allow nothing to divert him from his purpose.


"Three things are necessary," said Charles Sumner, "first, backbone;

second, backbone; third, backbone."

A good chance alone is nothing. Education is nothing without strong and

vigorous resolution and stamina to make one accomplish something in the
world. An encouraging start is nothing without backbone. A man who
cannot stand erect, who wabbles first one way and then the other, who has
no opinion of his own, or courage to think his own thought, is of very little
use in this world. It is grit, it is perseverance, it is moral stamina and
courage that govern the world.

At the trial of the seven bishops of the Church of England for refusing to
aid the king to overthrow the Protestant faith, it was necessary to watch the
officers at the doors, lest they send food to some juryman, and aid him to
starve the others into an agreement. Nothing was allowed to be sent in but
water for the jurymen to wash in, and they were so thirsty they drank it up.
At first nine were for acquitting, and three for convicting. Two of the
minority soon gave way; the third, Arnold, was obstinate. He declined to
argue. Austin said to him, "Look at me. I am the largest and the strongest of
the twelve; and before I will find such a petition as this libel, here will I
stay till I am no bigger than a tobacco pipe." Arnold yielded at six in the


Yes, to this thought I hold with firm persistence; The last result of wisdom
stamps it true: He only earns his freedom and existence Who daily
conquers them anew. Goethe.

"It is interesting to notice how some minds seem almost to create

themselves," says Irving, "springing up under every disadvantage, and
working their solitary but irresistible way through a thousand obstacles."
Opposing circumstances create strength. Opposition gives us greater power
of resistance. To overcome one barrier gives us greater ability to overcome
the next. History is full of examples of men and women who have
redeemed themselves from disgrace, poverty, and misfortune, by the firm
resolution of an iron will.

Success is not measured by what a man accomplishes, but by the opposition

he has encountered, and the courage with which he has maintained the
struggle against overwhelming odds. Not the distance we have run, but the
obstacles we have overcome, the disadvantages under which we have made
the race, will decide the prizes.

"It is defeat," says Henry Ward Beecher, "that turns bone to flint, and
gristle to muscle, and makes men invincible, and formed those heroic
natures that are now in ascendency in the world. Do not, then, be afraid of
defeat. You are never so near to victory as when defeated in a good cause."

Governor Seymour of New York, a man of great force and character, said,
in reviewing his life: "If I were to wipe out twenty acts, what should they
be? Should it be my business mistakes, my foolish acts (for I suppose all do
foolish acts occasionally), my grievances? No; for, after all, these are the
very things by which I have profited. So I finally concluded I should
expunge, instead of my mistakes, my triumphs. I could not afford to
dismiss the tonic of mortification, the refinement of sorrow; I needed them
every one."

"Every condition, be it what it may," says Channing, "has hardships,

hazards, pains. We try to escape them; we pine for a sheltered lot, for a
smooth path, for cheering friends, and unbroken success. But Providence
ordains storms, disasters, hostilities, sufferings; and the great question
whether we shall live to any purpose or not, whether we shall grow strong
in mind and heart, or be weak and pitiable, depends on nothing so much as
on our use of the adverse circumstances. Outward evils are designed to
school our passions, and to rouse our faculties and virtues into intenser
action. Sometimes they seem to create new powers. Difficulty is the
element, and resistance the true work of man. Self-culture never goes on so
fast as when embarrassed circumstances, the opposition of men or the
elements, unexpected changes of the times, or other forms of suffering,
instead of disheartening, throw us on our inward resources, turn us for
strength to God, clear up to us the great purpose of life, and inspire calm
resolution. No greatness or goodness is worth much, unless tried in these

[Illustration: BENJAMIN DISRAELI (Earl of Beaconsfield), English

Statesman and Novelist. b. London, 1804; d. London, 1881.]

Better to stem with heart and hand The roaring tide of life, than lie,
Unmindful, on its flowery strand, Of God's occasions drifting by! Better
with naked nerve to bear The needles of this goading air, Than in the lap of
sensual ease forego The godlike power to do, the godlike aim to know.



When Moody first visited Ireland he was introduced by a friend to an Irish

merchant who asked at once:

"Is he an O.O.?"

"Out and Out"--that was what "O.O." stood for.

"Out and Out" for God--that was what this merchant meant. He indeed is
but a wooden man, and a poor stick at that, who is decided in everything
else, but who never knows "where he is at" in all moral relations, being
religiously nowhere.

The early books of the Hebrews have much to say about "The Valley of
Decision" and the development of "Out and Out" moral character.

Wofully lacking in a well-balanced will power is the man who stands side
by side with moral evil personified, in hands with it, to serve it willingly as
a tool and servant.

Morally made in God's image, what is more sane, more wholesome, more
fitting, for a man than his rising up promptly, decidedly, to make the Divine
Will his own will in all moral action, to take it as the supreme guide to go
by? It is the glory of the human will to coincide with the Divine Will.
Doing this, a man's Iron Will, instead of being a malignant selfish power,
will be useful in uplifting mankind.

God has spoken, or he has not spoken. If he has spoken, the wise will hear.

We search the world for truth; we cull The good, the pure, the beautiful,
From graven stone and written scroll, From all the flower-fields of the soul:
And, weary seekers of the best, We come back laden from our quest, To
find that all the sages said Is in the BOOK our mother read. Whittier.

O earth that blooms and birds that sing, O stars that shine when all is dark!
In type and symbol thou dost bring The Life Divine, and bid us hark, That
we may catch the chant sublime, And, rising, pass the bounds of time; So
shall we win the goal divine, Our immortality. Carrol Norton.


Be Good to Yourself Every Man a King Exceptional Employee Getting On

He Can Who Thinks He Can How to Get What You Want Joys of Living
Keeping Fit Love's Way Making Life a Masterpiece Miracle of Right
Thought Optimistic Life Peace, Power, and Plenty Progressive Business
Man Pushing to the Front Rising in the World Secret of Achievement
Self-Investment Selling Things Training for Efficiency Victorious Attitude
Woman and the Home Young Man Entering Business


An Iron Will Good Manners Economy Ambition Do it to a Finish

Opportunity Cheerfulness Character Thrift Power of Personality


Hints for Young Writers Success Nuggets I Had a Friend Why Grow Old?
Not the Salary but the Opportunity

Send for Publishers' Special Circular of these Great Books


The Exceptional Employee

Uplifting to Humanity

"I assure you that the present and future generations must look upon such a
work as most uplifting to humanity."

CHARLES FRANCIS, Charles Francis Press, New York City.

Fresh Efforts after Reading

"No one will fail to put forth fresh and better directed efforts to work to the
front after reading the book." Good Health.

The Ladder of Success

"The author writes with a purpose in view; that purpose is found on the
topmost rungs of the ladder of success. In order to find the purpose the
reader must ascend this ladder. The rest is easy." Chamber of Commerce
Bulletin (Portland, Ore.).

A Wise Investment

"Any one who employs labor where it requires character and intelligence
would make a wise investment by presenting his employees a copy of this
book. It has been some time since I have read a more wholesome, inspiring,
and fascinating volume."

J.J. COLE, in Christian Standard.

Brimful of Anecdote and Illustration

"The book is not all theory and principle. It is brimful of the anecdote and
illustration from actual business life which gives vigor and acceptance to
the writer's ideas." Christian Advocate.


Opinions and Reviews of Dr. Marden's

The Secret of Achievement


"'The Secret of Achievement' is one of those exasperating books which you

feel you ought to present to your young friends, yet find yourself unwilling
to part with." WILLIAM B. WARREN, Former President Boston

Art of Putting Things

"I have studied Dr. Marden's books with deep interest. He has the art of
putting things; of planting in the mind convictions that will live. I know of
no works that contain equal inspiration for life."


A Great Service

"I thoroughly feel that you are rendering a great service to young men and
women in America and throughout the world."

REV. R.S. McARTHUR, D.D., New York City.

The Difference

"'Pushing to the Front' is a great book and 'Rising in the World' is a

magnificent book, but 'The Secret of Achievement' is a superb book."

Success against Odds

"This volume contains a series of stimulating anecdotes and advice

showing how energy, force of well-directed will, application, lofty purpose,
and noble ideals serve to win success even against the greatest odds. Many
a young man will draw inspiration from it which will aid him in making his
life work a success." School Journal.



The Young Man Entering Business

"A readable volume

on a substantial topic, which discusses actual questions. The counsel of an

experienced person." Pittsburgh Post.

Abounds in Specific Advice

"We can easily conceive that a young man who gets this book into his
hands may, in after life, date his success from reading it. It is sound,
wholesome, stimulating. The treatment is concrete. It abounds in specific
advice and telling illustration." Southern Observer.

Stimulates and Encourages

"Packed as it is with sensible, practical counsels, this volume can be

cordially recommended to stimulate and encourage young men starting out
in business life." Brooklyn Times.

A Necessity to Earnest Young Men

"There is such a thing as the science of success. Dr. Marden has made a
study of it. He writes in simple, attractive style. He deals with facts. The
book should be in the hands of every earnest young man." Christian

Entertaining as Well as Helpful

"So interwoven with personal incident and illustration that it is an

entertaining as well as a helpful book." Christian Observer.


Opinions of

The Miracle of Right Thought

Dr. Sheldon Leavitt says:

"I wish to state that I am unusually well pleased with Dr. Marden's 'Miracle
of Right Thought.' It is the best work of the author."

Ralph Waldo Trine says:

"This is one of those inspiring, reasonable and valuable books that are
bringing new life and new power to so many thousands all over our country
and all over the world to-day."

"You have formulated a philosophy

which must sooner or later be universally accepted. Your book shows how
the right mental attitude helps one in the realization of every laudable
ambition, and the value of cultivating a bright, self-reliant habit of thought.
I congratulate you on it."

G.H. SANDISON, Editor, The Christian Herald.

"It is marked by sanctified common sense;

it is in line with the advance thought of to-day, and yet it is so simple in

statement that unlettered men and untrained youths can master its best
thoughts and translate them into their daily lives."

REV. R.S. MacARTHUR, D.D., New York City.

REV. F.E. Clark, President United Society of Christian Endeavor, says:

"I regard 'The Miracle of Right Thought' as one of Dr. Marden's very best
books, and that is saying a great deal. He has struck the modern note of the
power of mind over bodily conditions in a fresh and most interesting way,
while he has not fallen into the mistake of some New Thought writers of

eliminating the personal God from the universe. No one can read this book
sympathetically, I believe, without being happier and better."


Selling Things


A Book For Salesmen

"Deals with the training of salesmen and the necessary attributes to make
them successful. All phases of the subject are considered: clothes, presence,
ability to talk, persuasive powers, tact, helping and getting the customer to
buy." Bookseller.

Will be Welcome

"A book that will be gladly welcomed by sales managers and salesmen in
every field." Philadelphia Public Ledger.

Helps to Prosperity

"One of the best things that you have written, and ought to be in the hands
of every man who would call himself a salesman. There are many points
therein that will certainly help him to prosperity." Samuel Brill.

A Masterful Work

"A masterful work and is filled from cover to cover with practical usable
information for young men and women. I consider this book one of the best
things you have done, and that is saying a great deal when the excellence of
your previous works is taken into consideration." Hudson Maxim.

A Powerful Factor

"In our opinion, if 'selling' would be given more thought by such world
famous writers as you, it would be a powerful factor in the complete
revolution of business, and eliminate to a great extent the waste of time,
money and human life that is so recklessly thrown away under the present
ignorance of true salesmanship." N.A. Corking, Sales Mgr., Ford Motor



Rising in the World

"A storehouse of incentive,

a treasury of precious sayings; a granary of seed-thoughts capable, under

proper cultivation, of a fine character harvest."--EDWARD A. HORTON.

"A stimulating book

which is pitched at a high note and rings true."--EDWIN M. BACON.

"Has all the excellences of style

and matter that gave to 'Pushing to the Front' its signal success. Dr.
Marden's power of pithy statement and pertinent illustration seems
inexhaustible."--W.F. WARREN, Former President of Boston University.

Touches the Springs of Life

"Dr. Marden has touched the springs of life and set forth with marvellous
and convincing power the results obtained by those inspired by high
resolves, lofty aspirations, and pure motives. No one can rise from reading
this book without cleaner desires, firmer resolutions, and sublime
ambition."--MYRON T. PRITCHARD, Master of Everett School, Boston.

Its Immortal Possibilities

"Has the same iron in the blood, the same vigorous constitution, the same
sanguine temperament, the same immortal possibilities as 'Pushing to the
Front.'"--THOMAS W. BICKNELL, Ex-U.S. Commissioner of Education.


Letters to Dr. Marden concerning

Every Man a King

Success vs. Failure

"One of the most inspiring books I have ever read. I should like to purchase
a thousand and distribute them, as I believe the reading of this book would
make the difference between success and failure in many lives."

CHAS. E. SCHMICK, House of Representatives, Mass.

Worth One Hundred Dollars

"I would not take one hundred dollars for your book, 'Every Man a King,' if
no other were available."


Unfailing Optimism

"The unfailing note of optimism which rings through all your works is
distinctly sounded here."

W.E. HUNTINGTON, Pres., Boston University.

The Keynote of Life


"'Every Man a King' strikes the keynote of life. Any one of its chapters is
well worth the cost of the book."

E.J. TEAGARDEN, Danbury, Conn.

Simply Priceless

"I have just read it with tremendous interest, and I frankly say that I regard
it as simply priceless. Its value to me is immeasurable, and I should be glad
if I could put it in the hands of every intelligent young man and woman in
this country."


Renewed Ambition

"I have read and re-read it with pleasure and renewed ambition. I shall ever
keep it near at hand as a frequent reminder and an invaluable text-book."

H.H. WILLIAMS, Brockton, Mass.


The Victorious Attitude


A Soul Doctor

"This book should be read by all discouraged people. It is a tonic--and a

moral bracer of the first order. Most of us need to have our self-confidence
stimulated, and Dr. Marden stimulates it. He is a soul doctor." Richmond
Times Dispatch.

Buoyant and Breezy


"Full of fresh ideas couched in straightforward language. Buoyant, breezy

and highly stimulating. San Francisco Bulletin.

A Wallet of Truth

"There is a crammed wallet of truth in your book. May it go forth to inspire

men with the fine courage of life." Edwin Markham.

Excellent Advice

"The homely truths and excellent bits of advice contained is Dr. Marden's
book will make instructive reading. It is written in forcible and easily
understandable style." Buffalo Commercial.

Cannot Fail to Help

"Clear, direct and vigorous in expression, and so uplifting and wholesome

in subject matter, that it cannot fail to be of help to many people who are in
need of just such advice." Des Moines Register.

Nothing More Valuable

"One of the very best books that you ever produced. The book is like a
medicine to me. I commended it to our students put it in our library and it
has been in great demand. I know of nothing finer or more valuable for
young people who are struggling for an education." Rev. O.S. Krisbel, D.D.


Letters to Dr. Marden concerning

He Can Who Thinks He Can

Will Do Amazing Good


"I believe 'He Can Who Thinks He Can,' comprising some of your
editorials, which appear akin to divine inspiration in words of cheer, hope,
courage and success, will do amazing good."

JAMES PETER, Independence, Kas.

Greatest Things Ever Written

"Your editorials on the subjects of self-confidence and self-help are the

greatest things ever written along that line."

H.L. DUNLAP, Waynesburg, Pa.

Gripping Power

"Presents the truth in a remarkably clear and forcible manner, with a

gripping power back of the writing. It is beautiful and inspiring."

C.W. SMELSER, Coopertown, Okla.

Beginning of My Success

"Your editorials have helped me mere than any other reading. The
beginning of my success was when I commenced to practise your


Wishes to Reprint It

"I have been very much impressed by the chapter on 'New Thought, New
Life.' I would like to send a copy of it to two thousand of my customers,
giving due credit of course."

John D. MORRIS, Philadelphia, Pa.


Full of Light and Joy

"I have studied the subject of New Thought for ten years, but have never
seen anything so comprehensive, so full of light and joy, as your treatment
of it. When I think of the good it will do, and the thousands it will reach,
my heart rejoices."




The Joys of Living

In Every Sense Worth While

"A ringing call for a joyful life is just what this old world needs to hear and
to heed. A saner, wiser, more helpful book than this we have rarely read....
In every sense well worth the while." The Examiner.

Wholesome Reading

"The book makes wholesome reading. One lays it down with a resolve to
find more happiness in his life and a determination to live more in the
present." Springfield Republican.

One of the Author's Best

"The author has been doing uniformly good work, work that has elicited
warmest commendations from leading men of the country. 'The Joys of
Living' is one of Dr. Marden's best books." Chicago Standard.

More Such Teachers Wanted


"Give us more such teachers and writers, more such heralds of the new and
ever present kingdom of Good, of joy, of Opulence! Just read this book
yourself and you will change your whole mental attitude." The

A Book for the Nerve-worn

"The book is one that our rushing American world needs. If you feel
compassion for any nerve-worn, unhappy man or woman, tell them of this
message. Better still, send the book to some one who needs it." Portland


Press Reviews of Dr. Marden's

Be Good to Yourself

"The author is a wonder,--

one of the very best preachers, through the pen, of our time." Zion's Herald.

"Just such a discussion of personality

as we all need. The titles of the chapters are appetizing and the advice and
lessons taught are good. It will help many a reader to understand himself
better." The Advance.

"The kind counsel of a new book

by Orison Swett Marden, who says there are many people who are good to
others but not to themselves This is a fine volume from every point of
view." The Religious Telescope.

"Of a thoroughly inspirational character,


these essays are calculated to awaken and sustain the right sort of ambition
and evolve a manly type of character. They are surcharged with faith,
optimism, and common sense." The Boston Herald.

"Dr. Marden's friends,

who are to be found in all quarters of the globe, wait eagerly for such
advice as this, on how to be happy, hearty, and healthy." Seattle Post


End of the Project Gutenberg EBook of An Iron Will, by Orison Swett




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